• Thu, Jan 2 - 1:00 pm ET

It’s Okay To Panic And Other Things I Learned About Being A Parent Last Year

143922939I never know if I’m doing anything right when it comes to parenting; there’s so much advice out there. I’ve managed to keep two children alive – one for three years and counting and the other for seven months today. Obviously, I’m a stellar parent. I’m looking at them both right now and they are breathing. Success!

Occasionally I am a less-than-confident parent, and because of that, It’s been a bumpy road. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from doubting myself in 2013. Maybe they’ll help you if you hit a similar bump in the road.

1. Feed them whatever they’ll eat.

If I could count all the times I prepared full meals only to throw them out and prepare another – I would probably cry. This year, I ran into the trap of believing my newly finicky toddler would eat, if only I prepared him the right thing. Ha.

If you can get a toddler to chew and swallow something, it’s a success. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to get them to shove balanced meals down their gullet three times a day – it’s probably not going to happen.

2. They’ll need to go to the bathroom. Facilitate that without driving yourself crazy.

My toddler is finally potty trained. He’s also a nudist. Whenever he realizes he needs to use the potty, he removes his pants and underwear, leaves them where he stands, and finds a bathroom. Potty training is sometimes an ongoing lesson.

I let myself fall into the trap of thinking I was failing because he wasn’t trained in three days. He’s getting there. I’m okay with that.

3. It’s okay to panic.

I thought by kid number two I would be a Zen-like parenting guru. Not so much. I still panic every time something weird and inexplicable happens. I took my 6-month-old to the doctor convinced that she was having trouble breathing. She was making the weirdest sounds, almost like she was gasping for air. It turns out – those are the sounds she makes when she’s straining to take a poop. I had just introduced formula.

Okay, so she could breath. It was a useless trip. So what? Go to the doctor whenever you need to. It’s your kid. It’s okay to panic.

4. Keep a stock of Band Aids in the house.

Your child will be cutting himself occasionally. Don’t be the parent who doesn’t own a Band-Aid, like I was.

5. Don’t freak out about TV watching.

My child is watching Blues Clues as I write this. I’m okay with that. I watched TV as a child, and I consider myself to be a semi-functioning member of society. It will be okay.

6. Don’t believe the hype.

Everyone has shit-show parenting moments. No one is perfect – and if they are, so what? Good for them. Just don’t let anyone guilt you into feeling like you are doing anything wrong when you know you are doing your best. Your best might be McDonalds one day. Or a movie marathon for your toddler the next. Do you love your child? Do you pay attention to your child? Do you truly wish the best for your child? Then you are a good parent. The end.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Kay_Sue

    I really, really get the potty training one. In addition to also having a nudist (duct tape failed, if anyone’s wondering), my older son also potty trained in pretty much the blink of an eye. I was like, “Hell yes, I have this parenting down. Someone give me my potty training medal.”

    Then God (or the flying spaghetti noodle monster, or whatever entity you’d like to put in there) decided I needed to stay humble, and my youngest came kicking, screaming, and rebelling into the world. We are finally mostly potty trained, but it has been a long…long….long…..LONG road. And now I want less medals, and more a nice adult beverage to soothe my frayed nerves. God, you win this one.

    • Jessica

      That’s how I felt about babies and sleep. I kept waiting for someone to bring me my Awesome Parent Medal and Commemorative T-Shirt for how fast I got my first two to learn to sleep. Then came #3, and 1 year later… I am so very tired.

    • pineapplegrasss

      sleep. my 4th child, ugh.. isn’t each subsequent one suppose to be easier? lol hes 2.5 and I still can’t get him to stay in bed

    • Kay_Sue

      They have a funny way of knocking us down a peg or two, don’t they?

    • Bethany Ramos

      Ramen ;)

    • rrlo

      It’s amazing how often we attribute parenting “successes” to our own wonderfulness (then woefully learn we were mistaken)… I guess that’s how sanctimommies are born :).

    • Kay_Sue

      I know. I am definitely thankful that the powers that be decided to knock me down a peg or two. If it weren’t for little a, the youngest, I think I could actually be well on the way to being sanctmommyous, because my oldest is an easy kid. It’s the truth, and it’s not my doing at all, and yet, being human, I’d take credit for it if I could.

      But then the little one does something like feed the hamster Hershey’s kisses (requiring frantic googling of whether chocolate is, in fact toxic to hamsters), or smear cake icing in the bathtub while I’m using the other bathroom, and I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t have this figured out AT ALL, and let’s put college fund / bail money on that savings account.”

    • pineapplegrasss

      haha we had a nudist too. One that wasn’t afraid of poop either. I eventually ended up with duct taped diapers that were twisted and folded over in the back where her little fingers couldn’t get too.

    • Kay_Sue

      We are currently trying an idea that was suggested when I mentioned this before and scheduling naked time. He’s slept in pants the past three nights, so I’m going to call it progress! ;)

  • rrlo

    Along with the band aid – I need to ensure the house has children’s Tylenol and Ibuprofen. We are very laid back parents – and one of the few times I felt like an irresponsible mother was when my son ran an inexplicable fever in the middle of the night and we could NOT find the Tylenol. My husband had to go to the drugstore at 3am to buy it (the whole trip only took 15 minutes – so that was good to know).
    Since my kid has the tendency to run high fevers – I have now LEARNED my lesson.

    Also, one study showed (allegedly – I couldn’t download the full-text of the study) that full day-time toilet training took an average of 10 months or less for 27 mo+ kids and 13-14 months for younger kids. So there you go…

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Yes! I knew I couldn’t be the only one having this experience.

    • pineapplegrasss

      Boys are seriously just not ready til 3yo or close to 3 anyway. They’re going to be trained when they’re ready. So if you start too soon, its just going to take longer.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Is the baby seriously that old already? I remember the “When is it going to be born already?” articles and then your very brief lack of articles for a few days when she was born. I can’t believe it! Time flies. Congrats!

  • DeliciousIroning

    Potty training my middle child took 2 endless years. We panicked constantly that he wouldn’t be ready for school. Then one day out of the blue (literally the week before beginning preschool, phew!) he was like, yeah I’m gonna go on the potty now. And that was it. No more drama. Same thing with staying dry during the night. One night he refused his diaper and has been dry every since. My people pleasing first child was potty trained in a week. I’ve come to accept that my middle kid will please himself, thankyouverymuch and to stop stressing about it so much.

  • Rachel Sea

    I don’t understand not keeping bandaids in the house. I buy the economy sized boxes, and use them.

  • pineapplegrasss

    I have learned that if you can get a toddler to eat a few tablespoonsful of anything that is not a ‘sweet treat’ in any given day, then you are doing a fabulous job. And its a mommy bonus if its green and natural :)

  • SusannahJoy

    I was seriously freaked out about introducing food to my baby. There are just about a billion guides on how to introduce properly, and what to introduce, and when, and blahblahblah blah. Then I figured out that my kid is a really good eater (so far, I know that will change). So now I got to the store and grab a few pre-maid stuff, microwave a sweet potato or carrot occasionally, and throw as many cheerios and puffs at him that he wants (despite not being a “crawler” which gerber says he should be before eating puffs). I was totally stressing myself out for nothing.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yes, you are 100% correct! I went so crazy trying to feed son #1 balanced nutrition, and I would have emo freakouts at my husband about it all the time. And he was really resistant and threw all his food back at me (son, not husband). With son #2, I could care less and just give him mashed things and pouches. Surprise – he loves eating!!